Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BBC Shortwave Discontinued Due to Price of Diesel Fuel?

BBC Ends English Shortwave Service in Europe

This story interested me for a couple of reasons. First of all, I remember my father listening to the BBC on a boxy old shortwave radio when I was a kid, and somewhat more recently, I was seeing someone who asked for a portable shortwave radio for Christmas, in order to listen to the BBC, among other things (fortunately it was a couple of years before the BBC ended shortwave service to North America, which happened in 2001). Oh, and guess what: good shortwave radios can get very expensive!
Of course the BBC isn't the only good thing about shortwave: you can get all kinds of stations from all around the world. There is also some way you can use a shortwave radio to count meteors during a meteor shower, if I remember correctly-- if you tune it a certain way, there will be a spike in the volume level of static whenever there is a meteor, or something like that. (Go ahead and be impressed that someone like me knows this!) Shortwave radio seems like one of those odd little geeky hobbyist things that is actually kind of neat.

But of course everything that was neat about shortwave radio is also what is neat about internet radio, so the shortwave medium has been on its way out for a while, at least in the developed world. But the reason I'm writing about it is the strange financial cause-and-effect relationship noted in the article linked above:

“What [die-hard shortwave listeners] don’t understand is the huge cost of powering transmitters. The cost of diesel fuel has doubled.”
Obviously I don't have all that technical a mind, but I never would have thought to link the cost of diesel fuel to the viability of broadcasting shortwave radio. You learn something new every day.


Noel Larson said...

There really all of these ripple effects that you can touch based on one event. It is the whole Butterfly Effect (not the movie!). But in economic terms is can have huge affect!

Anonymous said...

This may be a silly question - but why do they need to use diesel as a fuel at all?

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is just a way to drop an unprofitable service with a little dignity.